Cosmology:
| Readings: Astrology |

Cosmology is the study of the Universe and its components, how it formed, how its has evolved and what is its future. Modern cosmology grew from ideas before recorded history. Ancient man asked questions such as "What's going on around me?" which then developed into "How does the Universe work?", the key question that cosmology asks.

To religious studies, cosmology is about a theistically created world ruled by supernatural forces. To scientists, cosmology is about a world of controlled observations elucidated by natural forces. We will examine the supernatural cosmologies throughout history, but we will primarily explore the latter type of cosmology (naturalism) in this course.

Many of the earliest recorded scientific observations were about cosmology, and pursuit of understanding has continued for over 5000 years. Cosmology has exploded in the last 10 years with radically new information about the structure, origin and evolution of the Universe obtained through recent technological advances in telescopes and space observatories and basically has become a search for the understanding of not only what makes up the Universe (the objects within it) but also its overall architecture.

__Neolithic Cosmology__:

Cosmology is as old as humankind. Once primitive socal groups developed language, it was a short step to making their first attempts to understand the world around them. Very early cosmology, from Neolithic times of 20,000 to 100,000 years ago, was extremely local. The Universe was what you immediately interacted with. Cosmological things were weather, earthquakes, sharp changes in your environment, etc. Things outside your daily experience appeared supernatural, and so we call this the time of Magic Cosmology.

__Egyptian/Mesopotamia Cosmology__:

Historians tend to exaggerate the capabilities of ancient Egyptians, when, in fact, they were a practical culture. The development of cosmology in ancient Egypt followed practical lines. Early man's impressions of the night sky formulated into various myths which then later became the core of Egyptian religion. Since its principal deities were heavenly bodies, a great deal of effort was made by the priesthood to calculate and predict the time and place of their god's appearances. These skills led to the division of the day and night into twelve sections each, the development of a lunar calendar and the development of a solar calendar of 12 30-day months with a special 5-day unit to bring the total to 365 days.

__Greek Cosmology__:

The third stage, what makes up the core of modern cosmology, grew out of ancient Greek, later adopted by the Church. The underlying theme in Greek science is the use of observation and experimentation to search for simple, universal laws. We call this the time of Geometric Cosmology.

The struggle to formulation a Geometric Cosmology led to the development of the biggest philosophical achievement of humankind, the philosophy of science. Indirectly, through an examination of our myths and creation stories, we developed the ideas and techniques that later would become the core ideas to this thing we call science.

Central to Greek cosmology is the belief that the underlying order of the Universe can be expressed in mathematical form lies at the heart of science and is rarely questioned. But is mathematics a human invention or does it have an independent existence?

Idealization of physical phenomenon led Plato to hypothesize that there were two Universes, the physical world and an immaterial world of `forms', perfect aspects of everyday things such as a table, bird, and ideas/emotions, joy, action, etc. The objects and ideas in our material world are `shadows' of the forms (see Plato's Allegory of the Cave). This solves the problem of how objects in the material world are all distinct (no two tables are exactly the same) yet they all have `tableness' in common. There are different objects reflecting the `tableness' from the Universe of Forms.

Thus, there came into existence two schools of thought. One school is attributed to Plato, and finds that Nature is a structure that is precisely governed by timeless mathematical laws. According to Platonists we do not invent mathematical truths, we discover them. The Platonic world exists and physical world is a shadow of the truths in the Platonic world. This reasoning comes about when we realize (through thought and experimentation) how the behavior of Nature follows mathematics to an extremely high degree of accuracy. The deeper we probe the laws of Nature, the more the physical world disappears and becomes a world of pure math.

__Anthropocentric Universe__:

Both Plato and Pythagoras influenced the first logically consistent cosmological worldview, developed by the Greeks in the 4th century B.C. This early cosmology was an extrapolation of the Greek theory of matter proposed by Empedocles. This theory states that all matter in the Universe is composed of some combination of four elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. These four elements arise from the working of the two properties of hotness (and its contrary coldness) and dryness (and its contrary wetness) upon an original unqualified or primitive matter. The possible combinations of these two properties of primitive matter give rise to the four elements or elemental forms.

In a seemingly unrelated discovery, Euclid, a Greek mathematician, proved that there are only five solid shapes that can be made from simple polygons (the triangle, square and hexagon). Plato, strongly influenced by this pure mathematical discovery, revised the four element theory with the proposition that there were five elements to the Universe (earth, water, air, fire and quintessence) in correspondence with the five regular solids.